The Halchidhoma Indians entered written history in 1604–1605, when a Spanish expedition coming overland from New Mexico under Juan de Oñate encountered the “Alebdoma” on the lower Colorado River, below its junction with the Gila River.
When the Jesuit missionary-explorer Eusebio Francisco Kino returned to the river in 1700, the Halchidhoma Indians had moved to a portion of the river 100 miles farther north.
A system of military alliances and traditional hostilities seems to have prevailed among the relatively warlike tribes of the lower Colorado and Gila rivers.
This may account for the Halchidhoma tribe’s move during the seventeenth century.
The Halchidhoma were part of an alliance that also included the Maricopa and Cocopa, among others, and was opposed by the Quechan and Mohave.
In the 1820s, the Halchidhoma Indians were finally driven from the Colorado River. They took refuge with the Maricopa on the middle Gila River.
In the following decades, some continued on to Lehi, Arizona on the Salt River and maintained a separate identity, while others stayed and became assimilated to the Maricopa.
The territory on the Colorado River vacated by the Halchidhoma was subsequently occupied by the Chemehuevi.
Pre-contact Population of the Halchidhoma Indians
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. The Franciscan missionary-explorer Francisco Garcés estimated the Halchidhoma population in 1776 as 2,500. Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) put the 1770 population of the Halchidhoma at 1,000.
Halchidhoma language is in the Yuman language family
Historical records indicate that there once was a separate Halchidhoma language within the Yuman-Cochimí language family, in the River Yuman subdivision.
Due to war and conflict with European settlers, the Halchidhoma settled in with the Maricopa people, in their current location around the Greater Phoenix area in Arizona.
The Halchidhoma people currently identify themselves with the Maricopa tribe, and many live in Lehi, Arizona, which is a small community within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on the south banks of the Salt River.
They continue to speak what they refer to as the Halchidhoma language.